not to be a bummer on christmas eve or anything

there’s this book, right, that my boss gives to me, this past summer. i’m leaving for a bit and she says, “do you need beach reading? here — this one’s really good.”  this book came out this summer. the reviews of it everywhere are enthusiastic - charming, touching, sparkling, coming-of-age-tale, emotional development, lovably flawed, funny, impressive, amazing. these are the words people are using.

the plot of this book is that a nerdy computer genius has always had some lady trouble and has recently become a bajillionaire due to selling some software or whatever. he meets a girl at a party - petite, “fine dark hair,” cat eye glasses. he becomes obsessed. he is “in love.”

he discovers that she was sexually abused by her father as a child - or she says she was, that she’s “recovered” the memories, that she went through harrowing years of therapy and now has finally dealt with it - and suddenly he has trouble sleeping with her, he can’t stop thinking about it, he begins to doubt her and he thinks she might just be making it up. this discovery is punctuated by chapters about his awkward high school life, his experience of being a social outcast, a nerd, a programmer, a computer guy. he tracks down the girl’s father to ask him if it is true. he tells the girl that he did this and she calls him an asshole (NO SHIT) and leaves him and he Feels Regret and the whole thing ends with the exact same ending scene as Chasing Amy. 

this is actually the plot of the book: finding out that his girlfriend says she has been abused and he doesn’t know if he believes her and he no longer can have enjoyable normal sex with her because of it and feels uncomfortable around her, so instead of talking to her or his shrink about it, he hunts down her abuser because he suspects he is a normal guy and she’s a liar, then he’s hurt when she breaks up with him for being a royal jerkface.

why are these stories plot devices for male development but when women are honest about them it’s too ‘dark?’ (even - actually, especially - for the male protagonists of books supposedly about these women’s stories?) i am just rereading that thing vanessa veselka wrote for the rumpus last year and, like, goddamn.

formula for narrative: sad boy meets pretty (requirement) girl. sad boy finds out about  trauma in pretty girl’s past; takes it personally; botches the relationship; Learns From It And Moves On.